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Legend of the Christmas Stocking

Stockings are hung up in anticipation of Christmas morning. How did a simple stocking become synonymous with Christmas? Our page on Christmas Stockings will help you if you don’t. How did Christmas stockings become a tradition? Merry Christmas!

Christmas stockings and the folklore that surrounds them.

Stockings are empty socks or bags that children hang on Christmas Eve in hopes that Santa Claus would fill them with gifts. Stocking stuffers or stocking fillers are typically referred to as tiny toys, candy, fruits, money, and other small presents. Present paper is used to wrap larger gifts, which are then put near the Christmas tree.

A benevolent nobleman named Nicholas, who was born in Patara, Lycia, Asia Minor, around 280 AD, is claimed to have started the tradition of Christmas stockings. His affluent parents perished in an epidemic while he was a child. Dedicated to following the teachings of Jesus Christ, Nicholas became a Christian priest and donated all of his wealth to the poor, the needy, and those who were ill or in pain. Young Bishop of Myra, he committed his life to God’s service and was ordained at a young age. As a result of his kindness and charity, Bishop Nicholas became well known across the nation. Nicholas was a genuine celibate; he never married and had no children.

His passion for children, on the other hand, was undeniable, and he regularly presented gifts to the youngsters of his community. Because of this, he became known as Myra’s gift-giver. This affluent man toured the country assisting people and providing money and other gifts to those in need. Nicholas, on the other hand, usually presented his presents late at night, in order to keep his identity a mystery. The youngsters of the time were advised to go to bed fast or he would not arrive! In the end, Nicholas was designated as the patron saint of children and sailors (because of his care for sailors) and became known as Saint Nicholas.

Over the years, Saint Nicholas’ life and acts have been the subject of countless tales and legends. Popular legend has it that a poor peasant and his wife and three daughters lived peacefully in a modest hamlet in Patara, Saint Nicholas’ homeland, in a small hut. A unexpected disease took the wife’s life one day, leaving the impoverished widower and his three daughters distraught. As a result of this, the girls were now responsible for all home tasks, while their father carried on with his life as usual.

Because he realized he would never be able to marry them off to suitable men, the impoverished father grew even more unhappy. To find a spouse in those days, a young woman’s father had to provide something of value, which was called a “dowry.” Because of the lack of a dowry, this impoverished man’s daughters were unable to find a suitable match. The powerless father frantically searched for a solution, while her daughters cooked, sewed, and cleaned on their own.

Saint Nicholas, meantime, had learned about the impoverished peasant’s daughters. The kind saint chose to aid the father because he was aware of his financial situation. This was something he wanted to accomplish behind closed doors. A bag of gold in hand, he proceeded to the peasant’s house and waited for the family to retire before throwing the bag through the cottage’s open window.

After doing their laundry for the day, the daughters put their stockings up to dry by the fireplace that night after finishing their washing. They had no idea that their benefactor was waiting for them to fall asleep nearby. Just as they were about to fall asleep, St. Nicholas crept up to the window of the cottage and peered in. At night, his stockings were near to his grasp, illuminated by the moon. He gently tucked his gold bag inside one of the stockings and slipped out as quietly as he had entered.

The next morning, when the father found the bag and opened it, he was in ecstasy. Enough gold was hidden in the stocking to pay for one daughter’s dowry. In his eyes, it was a gift from the universe. He wondered who had sent it. So, the father was able to care for his daughter and ensure that she was wed to an honorable man.

Saint Nicholas returned a second time with a bag of gold, which he carefully stuffed into a second stocking so that the second daughter would be taken care of.

After opening the bag, he couldn’t believe his eyes when his daughters handed it to him the next morning. A second daughter was able to be married off with this gift as well.

A few weeks had passed and the father was eager to find his mystery benefactor, so he kept an eye out the next night. St. Nicholas returned a third time and this time he was carrying a gold sack on his back. As soon as he saw him, the elderly lord recognized him as a neighbor. In front of the Bishop, he went to his knees, screamed out in joyous thanks, and thanked him from the bottom of his heart. He was able to watch his three daughters get married thanks to the blessings of St. Nicholas, the impoverished father. After that, he had a long and happy life.

As a result, Christmas stockings are believed to have originated in Europe. This same Saint Nicholas may have inspired Santa Claus, with Santa denoting Saint and Claus, Nicholas.

Christmas stockings and shoes are already being hung, and youngsters are excitedly anticipating gifts from Santa Claus. A simple pair of daily socks was first utilized, but as time went on special Christmas stockings were fashioned for this purpose. Many different types and sizes of Christmas stockings may be purchased in gift shops all around the world nowadays. Stockings for the holiday season are also available.

Christmas stockings are also a popular handmade craft in modern society. Individual stockings are made by certain households for each member of the family. So Santa knows which stocking belongs to every family member, many families sew their own Christmas stockings with each member’s name on them.

Christmas stockings are sometimes the only gifts a youngster receives from Santa Claus in various countries. Because of the western Christmas tradition, bad-behaving children will not receive a present in their Christmas stocking, but rather a lump of coal.

A present that stimulates the five senses is often placed in the Christmas stocking. The stocking must be put on the fireplace mantel as part of the traditional Christmas celebrations. The stockings may be hung in practically any position in a modern home, as many do not have fireplaces.

It is still a custom for youngsters throughout the world to hang up their Christmas stockings on December 25th. When the stockings go up, kids throughout the world know that the most anticipated time of year is not far behind.

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History of Christmas Lights

Thomas Edison may be famous for the light bulb, but it was his partner and friend, Edward Hibberd Johnson, who had the bright idea of stringing bulbs around a Christmas tree in New York in 1882. By 1914, the lights were being mass produced and now some 150 million sets of lights are sold in the U.S. each year.

Christmas is an amazing time of year. There are so many things to do, to plan for and to see. One of those things is Christmas lights. Every year people dig them out or by the latest trend and decorate their trees, and their homes with these colorful and cheerful reminders of the holiday season. Christmas lights actually started out just as candles. These candles were attached to the tree using wax or pins. The practice began in Germany during the 17th century and over the next 200 or so years; it became an established practice in Germany and began to spread out into other countries of Eastern Europe.

The practice was originally started in order to bring illumination to the ornaments that were placed on the tree. This practice continued until around 1900 when candleholders became popular and people started to use them instead of wax or pins to hold the candles to the trees. The purpose however, stayed the same. It was to illuminate and make those beautiful works of art that decorated the tree become even more visible.

It was not until around 1915 that glass balls and lanterns were also used replacing the candles on trees as the main form of illuminating and providing glittering beauty to these wonderful symbols of Christmas with the masses. The world of Christmas lights really became something amazing with the invention of the light bulb and electricity. In 1882, the first Christmas tree to be lit by electric lights was seen in New York. It was lit by Edward Johnson who happened to be a friend of Thomas Edison. The Christmas tree was lit with beautiful red, white, and blue lights, which still favorites of many today. It also led to the creation of the first string of Christmas lights, were easily massed produced and were available for sale around 1890. This of course was the start of the wonderful traditions we have today of placing strings of Christmas lights around our trees and homes to liven the holiday.

The first White House Christmas tree to have electric lights was seen in 1895 and lit by President Cleveland.

The first sets of sting lights were too expensive for the majority of people to afford but by 1900, many department stores were using Christmas lights to liven up their holiday displays and attract customers. The American Eveready company produced the first Christmas light set however in 1903.

The first sets were expensive $12 for 24 lights which in today?s money would be about $80.00, too expensive for the masses however, a wonderful idea was struck and Christmas lights became available for rent at a much cheaper price allowing them to be used by everyone to liven up the holiday displays in homes and businesses. These lights were created by GE. They came in seven colors, clear, frosted, green, blue, purple, ruby, and opal.

In 1917, a fire caused by the Christmas lights led to some reworking and Albert Sadacca came up with safe lights, which helped to reduce the risk of fire from Christmas light strings.

Outdoor light displays, the ones that see us driving around every year to see the variety of Christmas lighting at homes or even see us visiting specially designed light shows and displays with 1000s of Christmas light bulbs was started in North America. The idea however, was catching and these beautiful displays quickly became a worldwide phenomenon for everyone to enjoy. These lighting displays were started after the first safe outdoor Christmas light bulbs and Christmas light strings were seen in 1927.

Novelty lights, started to make an appearance during the 1930?s as a way to continue spreading the holiday spirit and increase light sales during the depression. This, of course, lead to the wonderful world of snowman lights, icicle lights, and other holiday themed lighting representations.

The Bubble Christmas light became big after World War II. The bubble light was a light that contained a liquid that was boiled inside the light. They were produced by the NOMA electric company initially and then spread. They were incredibly popular lights in the late 1940’s in fact, because of the materials they used not only did they bubble happily but also gave a slight tinkling noise as parts of the plug used for holding the chemicals came loose to rattle around as the lights bubbled. These lights were produced until around the 1970’s. However, many of them are still in use today, working as wonderfully as they did between the 1940’s when they were first introduced, and the 1970’s.

Aluminum trees became popular after the 1950’s, which lead Christmas light producers to come up with a form of multi colored rotating flood light in order to compensate for the use of such trees. This of course, helped to lead to the use of such lighting in outdoor displays and increased both the attractiveness and versatility of them.

Recent years have seen no drop in the love neither of Christmas lights nor in their ever-expanding uses and the creativity of displays created with them. In fact, some people keep them use them all year round as lighting for various purposes.

Recent years have seen an increase in things like tube and track lighting. These are small mini lights in solid plastic tubing. They come in a variety of wonderful colors and provide wonderful additions for outlining. LED Christmas lights have also come up in recent years. These lights take up less power, and really show the advancement of Christmas lights. They are not easily viewed during the day but create amazing displays at night.

Christmas lights are one of the symbols of the holiday season. They are versatile ways to create beautiful displays. Many people have created a tradition out of decorating the tree, the home both inside and out and the yard with Christmas lights. It is a fun way to bring family and even friends together in a creative and fun way.

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: An American Christmas Tradition

A Visit from St. Nicholas, more commonly known as The Night Before Christmas and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas from its first line, is a poem first published anonymously in 1823 and later attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, who claimed authorship in 1837.

The poem has been called “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American” and is largely responsible for some of the conceptions of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today. It has had a massive effect on the history of Christmas gift-giving. Before the poem gained wide popularity, American ideas had varied considerably about Saint Nicholas and other Christmastide visitors. A Visit from St. Nicholas eventually was set to music and has been recorded by many artists.

It’s a pretty simple story: on Christmas Eve, a father is awakened by the sound of St. Nick plopping down the chimney to distribute gifts before riding away. Other holiday favorites, such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas, “Charlie Brown Christmas,” and the Rankin/Bass Christmas Specials, quickly spring to mind while attempting to comprehend how readers can appreciate such a simple tale. All of these programs include the holiday, which may explain why we keep watching them at this time of year.

The poem lends itself to various variants thanks to its simple plot. It does not attempt to explain the meaning of Christmas; rather, it allows readers to enjoy the thrilling idea that there is a Santa Claus and the excitement felt on Christmas Eve. The poem’s charm lies in the details: According to Nancy Marshall, The Night Before Christmas is a “a masterpiece of genre word-painting,” that is visually creative.

Original Handwritten Manuscript, credit: NY Historical Soc.

The poem helps popularize and cement a distinct Christmas iconography in our contemporary culture, from stockings hung by the chimney to visions of sugarplums, from fresh fallen snow to Santa on a sleigh pulled by eight familiar reindeers, from Santa’s rosy cheeks to his belly that shook like a bowl full of jelly.

Nonetheless, it leaves plenty to the reader’s imagination, allowing the narrative to be imagined in a variety of creative approaches. Illustrations by self-taught American folk artist “Grandma Moses” (1860-1961) might provide a nostalgic undertone to the Christmas season. Roger Duvoisin (1900-1980), a Swiss-born illustrator and writer, illustrates the poem with a splash of brilliant colors and quirky comedy. Howard Finster, an American folk artist and pastor, has created imagery that is more bizarre and outsider in nature (1916-2001).

Every reworking of Moore’s classic poem allows the artists and authors to inject themselves into the story, making each scene both familiar and unfamiliar. Each subsequent adaptation of The Night Before Christmas contributes to the domestication and, without a doubt, Americanization of the gift-bearing saint, changing him from Moore’s pipe-smoking, elf-like St. Nick to a more commercialized red-suited, life-size Santa Claus.

But who says Santa’s outfit can’t be buckskin, green, plaid, or giraffe-print, as in the Native American Night Before Christmas? Moore never stated which color should be used for the outfit. In reality, another prominent New Yorker, Thomas Nast, did not develop a fully standardized picture of Santa Claus in his distinctive red coat and white beard until the late nineteenth century.

While Clement C. Moore may not have expected his poem to be more than a source of pleasure for his family and friends, his legacy has left us with something little but impressive, simple yet inventive, lasting but always open to fresh interpretation.

As early as 1932, a modern version of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” was available. Everyone who likes and looks forward to the poem over the holidays has a favorite rendition.  You can pick up a copy here for $1800!

In the meanwhile, till the next recounting…

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

Read and print the full poem here

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History of Christmas Fruitcake

History of Christmas Fruitcake

You may be wondering:

“My friendly neighborhood historian is writing an article on fruitcake? Is he as nutty as a fruitcake?”

And therein begins our tale…

The Phrase “Nutty as a Fruitcake”

Nutty as a fruitcake was first recorded in 1935, but the adjective nutty meaning “crazy or eccentric” goes back to 1821. I admit that I have been called eccentric. But more importantly…

December 27 is National Fruitcake Day.

What is Fruitcake?

It’s a pastry, bread, or cake made of nuts, dried or candied fruits, spices, grain, and optionally soaked in booze. There are many recipes. It was a special food for weddings or Christmas since at least the 18th and 19th centuries.

Origin of Fruitcake

While some historians trace it back to ancient Egypt as a food buried with the dead — it keeps for years — fruitcake became popular in ancient Rome some 2,000 years ago when they served a cake called satura that was made of pomegranate seeds, raisins, pine nuts, and barley mash baked in a ring-shaped confection.

During the Middle Ages, honey, spices, and candied fruit became popular ingredients.

With the growth and geographical expansion of the British Empire following the 16th century, its Colonies provided sugar; in the New World of the West Indies, cheap brown sugar also produced rum. Fruits were brought in from the Mediterranean area along with nuts.

In the 19th century, fruitcake made with butter became traditional as a wedding cake in England. Both Princess Diana and Kate Middleton served fruitcakes at their weddings.

Americans inherited this confection from the British and called it Christmas cakes or plumb cakes. Note, this is not the same as “figgy pudding.” The latter is steamed for hours before serving, and usually, the generous addition of alcohol is set on fire before presenting.

Fruitcake’s high sugar concentration gives it moisture-stabilizing properties, making it resistant to mold and bacterium, making it effectively eternal. According to the Guinness organization, at a food museum in Switzerland, a 4,176-year-old cake was found in an Egyptian tomb.

Fruitcake in the Media

How did fruitcake become a slur? How did it become the spumoni of the pastry world?

Truman Capote‘s 1956 short story “A Christmas Memory” describes a time spent with his eccentric cousin, who would commence fruitcake-making when she deemed it proper “fruitcake weather.” Whiskey played a large part in the production of the fruitcake.

Fruitcake oneBut it’s perhaps the former host of “The Tonight Show,” Johnny Carson, who best determined fruitcake’s place in the modern psyche. Deriding the loaf as a holiday reject, he once claimed that,

Egyptian archaeologists discover the world’s oldest fruitcake.

“The worst gift is fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.”

He was not the first to deride the seasonal loaf, but this anecdote persists.

Fruitcake around the world
Italy’s dense, sweet-and-spicy panforte (literally, “strong bread”) dates back to the 13th-century Tuscan town of Sienna.

Genoa’s is denser and called pandolce or “sweet bread.”

Milan has more of a bread loaf consistency confection that is lighter but still includes dried candied fruits.


One Italian restaurant in South Kensington, London hangs panettone in foil-wrapped packages from cords above the diners, as decorations and advertisements.

Germany’s stollen is a tapered loaf coated with melted butter and dusted with powdered sugar that’s more bread-like in consistency. It has been a Dresden delicacy since the 1400s and has its own annual StollenFest. It was only after Pope Innocent VIII granted the use of butter in the 1400s, lifting the church regulation, that milk and butter became stollen ingredients. There are Austrian and Dutch recipes as well. I get mine at a local Dutch bakery.

Black cake in the British Caribbean Islands, a boozy descendant of Britain’s plum pudding where the fruit is soaked in rum for months, or even as long as a year. Yo ho!

Poland and Bulgaria have keks, a loaf-shaped sponge cake.

When I was young, my family enjoyed Romanian cozonak during the holidays and weddings.

Portugal has its bolo rei, where each cake has a single fava bean inside. Whoever gets the slice with the bean is supposed to buy the cake next year!

Vietnam has a fruitcake called banh bo mut, but that’s made for the Lunar New Year.

Fruitcake celebrated

If December 27 is National Fruitcake Day, less than a month later, it’s the Great Fruitcake Toss Day.

About 10 miles from me, nearby Manitou Springs, Colorado, this year celebrates the 25th anniversary of its Great Fruitcake Toss. Since 1996 people have found an alternative to simply re-gifting their fruitcakes. They call it “recycling.”

Every year, usually on the first Saturday in January — but this year, on January 23, 2021 — Manitou Springs had a contest to see who can throw their fruitcakes the farthest and with the greatest accuracy.

Great Fruitcake Toss Day

People build various projectile machines: catapults, surgical tubing slingshots, pneumatic canons, or just hurl the cakes by hand (you can rent one if you don’t bring your own.) To make up for all the lost food, everyone competing has to bring a donation to the local food bank — anything except fruitcake.

The Too Good to Toss Fruitcake Bake-off allows local bakers to compete against each other for the coveted title of Fruitcake King or Queen as determined by the community. Winners are based on who makes the best organic, non-GMO, natural fruitcakes.


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The Complete History of Christmas Lights, from Edison to LED

Every December, if you were like me, you grew up surrounded by Christmas lights– and you loved it.

When December arrives, we are quickly overwhelmed with a sense of warmth and pleasure because we know it is Christmas time. From the scent of evergreen trees to the nip of the chilly winter air, we are instantly filled with a feeling of warmth and joy because we know it is Christmas time.

But, let’s face it, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Christmas lights.

But do you know where the custom of Christmas lights began? It goes back a lot further than you may believe. Let’s take a trip down memory lane with Christmas lights…


1184: The light of Christmas takes shape


Hauling a Yule log at Christmas, 1832

For centuries, light has been used to represent wintertime festivities. Beginning with the medieval pagan celebration of Yule which marked the Winter solstice, the earliest recorded date of which is 1184 (although it may have been much earlier), the light of a burning Yule log was used to represent the light which warded off the evil spirits of the world during the long winter nights

Later, Christianity would incorporate Yule traditions into Christian festivities, lighting up Yule logs on Christmas Eve until as recently as the 19th century. A similar tradition of light as an important part of Wintertime traditions can be seen echoed in various Christian Christmastime traditions including Candlemas, Christingle, and Luminaria.

1660: Candle-lit Christmas trees are born

Steel engraving of Martin Luther’s Christmas Tree, from Sartain’s Magazine, circa 1860.

The first recorded reference to the practice of placing candles on trees was said to come from Germany in 1660. But it was nearly 100 years later, in 1747, that the Pennsylvania Dutch brought us perhaps the first official advent of the Christmas tree in the “lichstock” (or light stick), which was a large wooden pyramid lit by candles.

Later, in 1832, Harvard professor Charles Follen would borrow inspiration from the Dutch and go on to decorate an evergreen with candles in what is believed to be the first rendition of the traditional lighted Christmas tree in the U.S. Frederick Artz would then go on to invent the clip-on candle holder in 1878, a device that securely fastened each candle to the branch which was used. The invention was used by families in the U.S. for the next several decades.

1846: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert make candle-lit Christmas trees popular

Victoria and Albert gathered around the Christmas tree with their children.


Victoria and Albert gathered around the Christmas tree with their children.

Between the time Follen decorated the first Christmas tree with candles in the U.S. and Arts created the clip-on candle holder, across the pond the royal family consisting of then Queen Victoria and husband Prince Albert were illustrated as gathering around a candle-lit Christmas tree in the London news.

As expected, this created quite a craze and made candle-lit Christmas trees wildly popular in the U.K. An edited version of this illustration eventually made its way to the U.S. and further influenced the states to adopt the practice.

1879: Edison invents first string lights

Thomas Edison’s first public demonstration of incandescent lighting in 1879.

In 1879, Edison finalized the world’s first long-lasting carbon filament lamps, which he used to light up his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey on New Year’s Eve of that year.

But Edison wasn’t just trying to fill others with the holiday spirit, his light show was actually a bid to win a contract to power all of Manhattan with electricity. In the same way, commercial businesses have continued to use Christmas lights to drive customers during the holiday season to the present day.

1882: Edward H. Johnson decorates the first electric-lit Christmas tree

The first electric light Christmas tree, 1882.

Edison wasn’t just the inventor of the modern Christmas light, he inadvertently played an important role in the invention of the modern electric-lit Christmas tree as well.

During the Christmas of 1882, then vice president of Edison’s Electric Light Company Edward H. Johnson decided to hang Edison’s lights up on a Christmas tree. The event was largely ignored by the press, but word took off when a small Detroit newspaper featured the story.

From that day on, Johnson earned the title, “Father of the Electric Christmas Tree”.

1895: Christmas lights enter the White House


The White House Christmas tree in 1899, just before Roosevelt took office.

A decade later, after Johnson’s electric-lit Christmas tree, President Grover Cleveland requested an elaborate Christmas light display to please his three young daughters. Similar to the illustration of Queen Victoria that made waves in the U.K. half a century earlier, this photograph helped spread the practice of lighting evergreen trees during Christmas time.

This was an important moment in the history of Christmas lights, especially in the U.S., because electric lights still weren’t trusted by the public (despite the fact that candle-lit Christmas trees posed a much greater fire risk).

1903: General Electric sells the first Christmas light kits


Early 1900s ad featuring General Electric Christmas lights.

More than two decades after Edison’s first Christmas lights lit up Menlo Park, Edison’s General Electric began selling Decorative and Miniature Lamp kits that would light up Christmas trees all around the country.


Original G.E. ad for their ‘then’ new Electric Lighting Outfit. The lights cost $12.00 to rent. That would be more than $300 in today’s dollars.

All electric appliances like toasters, irons, and extras like Christmas lights had to be connected to an existing wall or ceiling light socket.

That is…if you could afford it. The only problem with Edison’s first Christmas light kits is they were expensive and therefore ended up being reserved for the wealthy. To give you a better idea, back then a single set of lights cost $12.00 to rent for the holiday season. In contrast, that would run you more than $300 in today’s dollars.

1919: GE introduces the flame-shaped MAZDA lamp


A 1920s ad from G.E for their MAZDA Lamps.

Now that the Christmas light industry had officially kicked off with Edison’s Christmas light kit, it was time for the U.S. to do what it does best: innovate.

Over the next two decades (and beyond), string lights became more powerful, longer-lasting, and perhaps most importantly at the time: less expensive. By 1919, G.E. made its first major innovation by debuting its flame-shaped bulbs using MAZDA tungsten filament. G.E.’s original round bulbs were then discontinued by 1922.

1920: The First Outdoor Christmas Light Show

Christmas Tree Lane and the colorful lights of the Balian Mansion.

Christmas Tree Lane and the colorful lights of the Balian Mansion have become beloved parts of area tradition

Around the same time as G.E. was debuting their flame-shaped bulbs and the innovation of Christmas lights was taking off in general with new light displays such as light snowmen, saints, and Santa Claus, the first outdoor Christmas light shows were taking off throughout the country as well.

One of the several signs indicating Christmas Tree Lane as a California State Landmark.

Most notably was the Santa Rosa Avenue Christmas Tree Lane show started by Frederick Nash in Altadena, California. Since 1920, Christmas Tree Lane has been lit every single year (with the exception of the period during World War II) for resident’s enjoyment.

1925: First widespread commercial sales of Christmas lights

Original NOMA Christmas Lites shown above.

NOMA was the largest Christmas lighting company in the world for all of the years of its operation prior to 1965.

With the steep price tag of Christmas lights still in place (although somewhat more accessible than before), candles were still a go-to option for most lower-income families. That is, until Albert Sadacca, a teen at the time out of New York City, decided to repurpose the white novelty lights his family had sold for years by turning them into colored bulbs. As a result, a cheaper and more accessible Christmas light was born.

Over the next several years, Sadacca’s National Outfit Manufacturer’s Association Electric Company (or NOMA for short) would take over the industry once cornered by G.E. and become the largest Christmas light manufacturer in the world for roughly 40 years. In addition, the company would go on to make several significant light innovations.

1946: NOMA debuts new bubble lights


Yes, before you ask those are bubbles inside of a Christmas light. In 1946, NOMA brought what was called the “bubble light” from the U.K. to the U.S. with an American patent. Within the plastic light casing, methylene chloride was heated to a very low boiling point, just enough to where it would visibly bubble through the plastic casing, hence the “bubble” light.

Despite the odd and somewhat gimmicky nature of the bubble light it swept the country and was incredibly popular for its time. We’re mesmerized!

1950s: The aluminum Christmas tree phase


With the 1950s Space Age came the advent, and resulting popularity, of the aluminum Christmas tree. A tree that was fireproof (finally!), never died nor needed water, and offered a space-age feel was too good to pass up.

Why was this significant? Because aluminum acts as a conductor, meaning Christmas lights couldn’t be placed on them. Instead of lights on the tree itself, people would use an illuminated color wheel like the one below. The wheel would spin around, illuminating the tree’s surface and making it appear as if it were lit:


Harmony House Roto-Wheels were used to illuminate aluminum Christmas trees.

Unfortunately for Christmas light companies at the time, the popularity of the aluminum Christmas tree lasted over a decade. As a result, the industry saw a significant drop in sales, and in 1966 NOMA, then the largest Christmas light manufacturer in the world officially filed for bankruptcy.

It’s not known exactly when the last U.S. manufacturer stopped making lights, but by 1978 nearly all U.S. light manufacturers had gone out of business or switched to foreign-made sets.

1966: GE takes Christmas lights foreign-made with Merry Midget lights (and the house-lighting tradition is born)


With NOMA out of the picture and the U.S. Christmas light industry still reeling, G.E. (who was still in the game) decided to bring manufacturing overseas. However, in good news, the result was that Christmas lights one again underwent a drop in price.

G.E.’s new Merry Midget mini lights (which are still available today) were smaller, cheaper, and more outdoor-friendly, so people began lighting their houses all over the country with greater intensity. Although houses had been lit before this, the practice wasn’t very common until the creation of G.E.’s Merry Midget lights, hence the birth of the widespread tradition of lighting your home with Christmas lights during the holiday season.

1970s-1990s: Accelerated innovation and the massive expansion of the Christmas light tradition


With the invention of the mini light offering a bright but low-cost and low-wattage lighting source, the U.S. went crazy. In true American fashion, people began decorating houses with huge amounts of lights in a bid to outdo their neighbors and design a bigger and better spectacle than the next person.

This tradition continued over the next two decades until the present day, where shows like ABC’s The Great Christmas Light Fight brought such competitions to major television.

1998 to today: LED Christmas lights take over

From 1998 until the present day, a new kind of light quickly took over and has dominated ever since.

The LED Christmas light, LED standing for “light-emitting diode”, lasted longer and was more efficient than the mini light. The LED light uses 95% less energy and lasts up to 100,000 hours, making it more efficient than the traditional mini light by a longshot. In addition, LED lights didn’t have the same problem as older Christmas light models where if one light went out the entire strand was done. With LEDs, if one light went out the rest of the strand continued to stay lit (and you could then buy a replacement bulb to fill in the strand).

However, in addition to the already game-changing benefits of LED Christmas lights, as opposed to previous light models LEDs are also shock resistant, vibration resistant, and some models are even moisture-resistant to protect from the Winter rain to top it off.

To fit with the times, LEDs are also environmentally friendly, with the strand being recyclable once it reaches its end.

The history of Christmas lights has been long and eventful and no one knows what will happen next. But one thing is for sure– the future looks bright (really, really bright).